Made of earthenware clay and lead glazed, the jar was likely made to have a lid, as the rim has a flange, usually found on jars that have accompanying lids. The interior and exterior of the jar are glazed with lead glaze. Lead glaze was made up primarily of a lead oxide, most often red lead, that was ground, mixed with a clay so that the mixture would adhere to the pottery, and made liquid with water. Earthenware is a porous material and must have an applied glaze in order to hold liquids. The original lid that accompanied this pot would have been glazed and fired separately. Three raised lines around the widest part of the jar separate two patterns of slip-trailed decoration. The upper half of the jar has slip-trailed decoration in the pattern of what is sometimes referred to as “clusters of grapes” with dots in the center of each arching loop, accompanied by a series of ‘V’ shapes, also slip trailed with a copper green slip. The bottom part of the jar is also slip trailed with a copper green slip in what are sometimes referred to as “C-scrolls.” Two pulled handles with finger ribbing on top are on opposite sides of the jar; they are wider at the top and tapered at the terminal. The three raised lines were used to mark where the terminals of the handles were to be placed.
There are few pieces of intact pottery attributed to Peter Bell, a prominent potter in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Winchester, Virginia. However, this jar is associated with his wares, as similar slip-decorated motifs appear on a dish that descended in the Bell family.
MAKER: Peter Bell (1774-1847) moved to Winchester from Hagerstown, Maryland in 1824, and worked there until his retirement in early 1845. Although few examples of his work are known, a prodigious body of pottery survives from the shops of his sons John (1800-1880), Samuel (1811-1891), and Solomon (1817-1882). A rare survival, the account book of Peter Bell, kept between 1804 and 1844, is in the collection of the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia. A copy is in the Gray Library at the Frank L. Horton Museum Center.
Comstock, H. E. The Pottery of the Shenandoah Valley Region. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1994.